Got an early jump start on the day to give ourselves more time in Missoula - we were out of the Angler’s Roost a couple minutes after 7. It’s strange when you’re sleeping outside and start to adjust to the sunlight. Getting up at 6 during school or work is unpleasant, but we’ve settled into a routine on the road without a hitch.
We headed north, following some locals’ advice to take an alternate path rather than Highway 93 that was torn up with construction. In the middle of Hamilton we detoured to the East Highway, which we rode until Stevensville, about 25 miles later. The highlight was visiting bizarro-Corvallis, Montana. I went to college in Corvallis…in Oregon…so it was nice to see the impostor version.
We hopped back on 93 and the rest of the 50 mile ride for the day was uneventful. We started seeing a lot of other bicyclists, which was fun. Missoula is home to Adventure Cycling, a non-profit, long-distance bicycle advocacy group. It was started in 1973 and creates maps for bicycle touring. Needless to say, it makes Missoula a huge mecca for crazy people on bikes.
The other cyclists were interesting. There was a group with two females and male who offered us breakfast Little Debbies to fuel us onward. Next was the school teacher from Oregon traveling with hardly any gear, we couldn’t figure out how he was doing it. The next pair were 7 feet tall Dutch dudes that looked like clones of each other, but who apparently are unrelated. And finally, as we pulled into town we saw none other than….drumroll…DAVE POINTS, our riding buddy from way back in Oregon. Small world and fun to hear his stories.
They snap a Polaroid of every cyclist that rides in
Getting to Adventure Cycling was a major milestone. They really roll out the red carpet for touring cyclists, offering free drinks, ice cream and resources galore. It was fun rolling into town and feeling like we had our own personal cheerleaders.
Who are these handsome fellows?
We ended up spending several hours there, talking to people, hearing the stories about how Adventure Cycling was founded (which was amazing and too long to blog, but the idea was hatched by cyclists on much of the same road we’d be riding, including the Stewart-Cassiar Highway before it was even finished!!!). Dan was the talk of the place because of his Xtracycle - for a big group of bike nerds his arrival was a major event. We also got our portraits taken for the Adventure Cycling archives and picked up a couple bicycling maps of the road ahead. I even pulled out a Polaroid from 2005 when Kevin, my father-in-law and I had ridden through on a cross-country ride. It was a great afternoon in bike nirvana. Check out www.adventurecycling.org if you’re interested.
Aaron being nostalgic
The afternoon also featured a little stress as we realized our intended route north out of Missoula was on scary bicycling roads. It means a small, 25 mile detour, but for our ride that’s already kind of tight time-wise it felt like a setback. After chatting and putting it in perspective, all is well. We’ll just have to have Matt tow us that extra distance.
We also decided to treat ourselves in Missoula and are semi-guiltily staying in a hotel so we could actually stay in town…there’s no camping on the University of Montana quad. Major thanks here are due to the Doan family for their loving sponsorship. Thank you. Plus they have free cookies here…a major step up from the pit toilets of only a couple days ago.
It’s also pretty exciting for me because a visiting minor league baseball team is also staying here. It’s too creepy to ask for their autographs, but I was tempted to try to sneak on the bus to see if they’d give me an audition. I’ll be sticking to pedaling…
Finally, tonight we’ve just been gearing up for the road ahead. Dan had a pedal malfunction that he had to take care of with brand, spankin’ new pedals. I did some laundry (more thrilling than it sounds when you’re trying to duck headwinds and mistake your riding partners in front of you for roadkill). We checked out the Kettle House, a local watering hole, for a Missoula beer. It was a treat.
Tomorrow we head North and we expect to be in Canada soon, spending loonies, drinking Sleemans, talking hockey and shivering in the cold. It should be an exciting transition, and yes, we all have our passports! We’ll keep you posted as we go, and keep firing the comments our way - we love to read them!